I know this seems obvious and there is the temptation to roll eyes and say, “You are an artist at an arts blog, of course you are endorsing Obama.” But hear me out. I have gone on a small political journey this week which has pushed me from the seat on the sidelines I have been warming. I was always going to vote for Obama come Tuesday, I just didn’t want to talk about it, Facebook about it, or engage what some might consider my normally excitable political fervor. Thanks to the destruction of Sandy, I have been brought back from the brink of apathy.
Back in 2008, I was all in. I was the person in the office wearing my Obama tee shirt with heels, arranging for a trip of like-minded colleagues to go campaign for Obama in Pennsylvania, driving the group there on a weekend, and thumbing my nose at those superiors in the accounting department who were vocally opposed. I did believe in the “hopey changey” thing that Sarah Palin mocked out of ignorance instead of insight. With clear vision to look at the past, I can now admit I was naive. I thought he would close Guantanamo. I thought he would push for the public option in healthcare. I thought he would let the Bush tax cuts expire. I did not expect him to be the leader of drone attacks.
If, like me, you have a long list of disappointments like this, I do have one major thing you should consider to get the fire burning a bit brighter in these final days. There is a man named David Koch. I like to mention him because he is someone famous for supporting dance (usurping the name of New York State Theater) and he is the perfect stand in for a certain kind of Libertarian strain that has taken over much of the GOP platform; the party that claims smaller and smaller government, in the way of public services, is better while maintaining a moral high horse and wish to legislate over every minority, from women to the LGBT, that is foreign or hard for them to understand. I will not take on the latter social issues here as I think the dividing lines are clear and basic civil rights should be self-explanatory. What has come to my attention this week is that every single person relies on the public services of the federal government, whether they like it or not, when it comes to a disaster.
When Koch ran for Vice President in 1980 he ran on a platform of abolition, including public schools, social security, and federal law enforcement. He is a major donor to the Romney campaign through his insidious Super PACs and faux grass roots tea party groups. The Citizens United decision has turned this country into his playground. This could eventually be a playground without equipment, sand, or sun, unless you can afford to provide them for yourself. New Yorkers and the entire east coast have seen devastation this week. Every single person, rich or poor, flooded or dry, is at the mercy of federal and state recovery efforts in order to begin living a normal life again. Even with the good job they have been doing, life has been tough for so many people. I bristle at the thought that anyone can think he or she is an island after an experience like this.
Previously, during the dark ages of the Bush Administration, there was a seemingly valid argument for small government due to the fact that FEMA and other government organizations were the victims of a gross cronyism, and as such, they failed to function properly. This left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Bureaucracy had ballooned under the party of small government and was hopelessly inefficient. But now, all the reports from this week, and from previous natural disasters over the last four years, are that FEMA is the helpful and necessary organization it was chartered to be. This is not a mistake. This sea change reflects a growing competency within the federal government due to Obama’s decision to be a leader of ALL people, not just the corporations and rich moguls who support him.
With global climate change and the promise of more “natural” disasters in our future, this is not a simple choice between the illusion of big or small government, it is about the very real issue of justice for all.
I will be voting for Barack Obama on Tuesday. I hope you will get out and vote too.
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